20.5.2019 - Comments Off on How we built a VC Fund called Nation1

How we built a VC Fund called Nation1

We guarantee you won’t see this happening very often; we started a VC (Venture Capital) fund and stepped out of it before launching it, bringing in a new team which was a better fit…

You may remember that we have said many times that we believe women are the next big thing in tech. Somewhere around the time we started talking about it (reminder: it was the second half of 2016) a chance appeared to receive substantial LP (Limited Partner) funding from EIF (European Investment Fund). This possibility was available for newly established VC funds with new teams in the Czech Republic.

Wow! We were enthusiastic; we thought: “let’s answer this call and talk with professionals about how we can support female entrepreneurs community in Europe”.

We started working on the fund in early 2017 and it was like entering new muddy waters, nothing went easy, but we had enthusiasm and vision why we are doing it. No one from us have ever worked in venture capital (VC) or private equity (PE). We may have provided some funds as LPs (Limited Partners) but we knew very little about the process, people and mechanics of traditional venture capital business. So we called all friends and friends-of-friends working in the space. We gathered some insights, some standard ways of doing things and got a huge pile of advice to follow.

We didn't like most of it so we thought we’ll do it our own way, but it did not resonate well with EIF as a major investor. Focus only on female entrepreneurs or mixed teams — not a good idea; focus on student idea stage projects with high number of small(er) investments — not a good idea; work with several technical and science focused universities to cover their student projects — not a good idea…

And so even though our fund was getting closer to becoming a reality in early 2018 we had to reassess our reasons, why we started this and we had to think about the possibilities how to progress further. It was there when we decided this case is not for us.

We started looking for new team members so we could step out. We stepped out of the fund work at the second half of 2018 to allow new members of the team to settle in.

Why we did that?

Well, for starters we saw that with this fund and with EIF as a major LP investor we can’t focus on our original mission — support of female entrepreneurs in Europe. Then the condition of “regional investment focus = Czech Republic” which we hoped would not be as strict as it proved to be, was kind of a show stopper. For us having singular investment focus on the Czech Republic seemed extremely limiting. Just remember, you have to compare what we say here with our initial idea/vision to improve support for female entrepreneurs in Europe. It’s not necessarily a bad thing to focus on one country, for most people it would actually be a good one, but not for us.

Great news is that even though we let someone else finish the job we started the early stage venture capital fund called Nation1 which is becoming investment-ready and operational these days.

nation1_logo

As I mentioned, it has a completely new team inside except the one person. That one person is actually the only woman in the fund’s team, Petra. We hired initially Petra to help us build female entrepreneurs community and female entrepreneurs deal-flow from across Europe as the first step towards our planned wFund.vc. Petra was always interested in young projects and acceleration of their potential and as a new mother, she’s also heavily vested in the Czech Republic. That’s why we are glad we were able to persuade her to stay with the Nation 1 fund and increase her involvement to a partner level that the fund would become her baby too.

In case you guys and girls reading this are from the Czech Republic or you think you’d consider relocating substantial part of your economic activity (e.g. IT development) there and you are looking for early-stage funding, then you have one fresh team motivated to improve early-stage funding for promising projects: Nation1 VC. Reach out to them!

We wish them tons of promising projects to choose from and the guts to choose successful misfits!


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13.5.2019 - Comments Off on Valuegraphics: a new approach to customer profiling

Valuegraphics: a new approach to customer profiling

David Allison is a consumer behaviour researcher and advisor who dedicated the past few years to developing a completely new systematic for consumer profiling, named Valuegraphics. What is so revolutionary about it? In this blog article, we take a closer look on Valuegraphics, using the example of environmentally-motivated people.

I was made aware of David Allison’s research in one of the recent episodes of Target Internet’s Digital Marketing Podcast. In that podcast, several reasons are mentioned, why traditional metrics do not work anymore. I find it in my marketing practice, demographic variables such as age, gender, income, marital status, etc. are still used very often, even though their explanatory power is considerably low.

The time is ripe to start describing target audiences using more meaningful metrics. The concept of Valuegraphics is based on three years of research, spent mostly with collecting answers on a survey of 340 questions, using an adaptable algorithm. In the questionnaire, 40 core human values and 340 wants, needs and expectations were evaluated. The large sample of about 75,000 people from several English-speaking countries allowed for a high level of confidence (95%) and a very low margin of error (3.5%). Pretty impressive, in my opinion!

When using only demographic characteristics as segmentation metrics, the agreement levels to the 340 questions of the questionnaire were almost always well below 20%. For example, when it comes to age, the agreement levels were only 13% to 15%. Such low numbers actually make marketers, who state that they are targeting the millennials or baby-boomers, look like fools! When using the peoples’ values as metrics for segmentation however, the agreement levels rise up to 76% to 89%!

These numbers made me curious to find out more about the concept and I was lucky enough to find a video explaining one of the main Valuegraphic archetypes, the environmental assembly. First you might ask, what is an archetype? An archetype is a broad characterization of a personality. Archetypes aren't identical, but they share identifiable traits. We can predict what the person will most likely do, because he (or she) will most likely act consistently with this (or hers) archetype. David Allison’s team identified ten main Valuegraphics archetypes; all of them are shortly described here. Now, let’s take a closer look at “the environmentalists”.

The environmental assembly represents 17% of the U.S. and Canadian population, which is not that little. The primary motivator of their actions is how they influence the planet. They agree 82% of a time to the 340 variables from the questionnaire, making for a pretty large and homogeneous group of customers. They all share an extreme and personal environmental concern. The important factor here is their belief that they can make a difference with their personal actions. Besides the environment, they highly value family, and are motivated mainly by their spiritual and physical health and well-being. Yes, you will have a hard time motivating them to get involved with means that could possibly threaten their well-being. Actually, they have the most family money and the lowest debt out of all archetypes; therefore they can afford buying and paying the premium for green products and services that activate their values.

75% of them want to be more environmentally sensitive, but only 15% of them know how. There is a clear gap and they want to be educated on ways how to do more. Interestingly, they are less interested in social media and incline more to direct mailings than all the other archetypes. They want to be part of a group that is heading to a more environmentally friendly direction. Also, they like rewards. Oh yeah, not to forget, there is one thing that for sure does not work with them - shame. It is crucial to keep the things positive when targeting this archetype.

Pretty interesting, right? Can you as well already sense how could Valuegraphics positively affect your communication strategy? You can find more information on the Valuegraphics homepage or in the book “We Are All the Same Age Now: Valuegraphics, The End of Demographic Stereotypes” by David Allison.

Sources:

  1. Target Internet’s Digital Marketing Podcast Episode 210: Discover Valuegraphics
  2. David Allison: The Environmental Assembly (Youtube video)
  3. David Allison: Which of these 10 personality archetypes applies to you?
  4. Kelly Teemer: What Are Valuegraphics and Why Do They Matter?
  5. David Allison: How to Recognize Ten Different Valuegraphics Archetypes by Their Core Values
  6. The Daily Curier: New marketing method dismisses demographics
  7. The Valuegraphics homepage
  8. Linked-In chat with David Allison (Thank You!)

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16.4.2019 - Comments Off on Insights from the Czech-German Innovation Festival 2019

Insights from the Czech-German Innovation Festival 2019

Organized by the Czech Centre and Czech Embassy in Berlin, supported among others by CzechInvest and Bitkom, the German-Czech Innovation Festival (CGIF) presents innovations, science, new technologies and startups from Czechia and offers a Czech-German platform for innovative business and academic cooperation. The team of SpaceLabEU, a part of the hDock42 launchpad, has had the opportunity to present their project at this year's edition on 9th of April in Berlin.

CGIF banner

The day was filled with panel discussions and workshops, many of them aimed at the main topic of the festival - Space & Aerospace Business in Czech Republic. The keynote Karel Havlicek, Vice-Chair at the Council for Research of the Czech Government, in his speech pointed out the importance of data being the most valuable asset. He also announced a government plan to reduce taxes for companies investing in research & development. A hot topic in the subsequent panel discussion was Industry 4.0. Collaboration of companies with universities has never been as important as now. It is also hard to predict the future of jobs in professions that are going to get disrupted by industry 4.0. Therefore, the educational system must be transformed so that people are able to flexibly learn new professions faster and more easily during their lifetime.

The next panel discussion was about the development of aerospace and space-tech companies in Czechia. Currently, there are more than 40 active companies working in the field of space technology in Czechia. Space technologies are already omnipresent in our lives - we use so many without even realizing it (keyword navigation). Therefore, it is just logical, that this topic is gaining prominence not only in the USA and western Europe.

In the subsequent workshops, companies operating in both Germany and Czech republic, like E-on or Ackee, have shared their insights and experience in business development in both countries. All of them agreed, that outside of Berlin, proper communication in German language is usually quite crucial for success. The importance of references, having a local business entity and a well-localized website should not be underestimated, too.

The highlight of the day was the Czech Startup pitch. SpaceLabEU was present with a team of four people, with Petr Palan, Member of the Board, presenting our project in front of the international jury. We made it to the top three finalists of public vote which was a huge satisfaction for us, keeping in mind that our ion propulsion engine is still in a very early phase of development.

SpaceLabEU pitch

SpaceLabEU pitch (photo by Karolína Vacková)

At this point, we would like to thank the organizers and all participants from both countries for this perfectly organized event. Quality discussions and workshops on current topics and also a nice opportunity for networking - that is the CGIF. We are already looking forward to the future, when we will be able to showcase our project in a more advanced stage of development. But now it's time to get back to hard work - see you some next time in Berlin!


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16.4.2019 - Comments Off on Impressions from hub.berlin 2019 – the innovators’ stomping ground

Impressions from hub.berlin 2019 – the innovators’ stomping ground

In the past week, we at MotionWise Solutions, a part of the hDock42 launchpad, had the opportunity to join one of the largest business & tech conferences in Germany - the hub.berlin. This conference gathers key players of leading industries, politics and entrepreneurs in a unique environment of the Station Berlin event space to discuss, shape and experience the digital transformation.

hubberlin_1

Looking back at the event, the prevailing impression is the overwhelming amount of motivation and inspiration. Thanks to the great mixture of participants including 1,000 startups, c-level executives of large corporates, public institutions, scientists and even artists the chance you will talk to an inspirational person is very high. We used this opportunity and talked about our current and emerging projects to many of the participants, giving us a valuable feedback from people from various industries.

This year's main topics were AI and Big Data, Digital Transformation, Education & Innovation, Fintech, Mobility and of course, Blockchain. It was quite hard to choose from the over 350 presentations and workshops. We sum up three of them that we found most inspiring:

Jack Ramsay, Accenture: Be Digital or be dead?

One of the many interesting thoughts in this presentation was that we now live in a world, where computers know us better than our closest family. E.g. the chance that Amazon chooses the right Christmas present for me is much higher than my partner. Why is it so? Because computers still listen to us. The disruption is now happening in our homes and the next industry to be disrupted is the transport industry. Speaking of transport: By the amount of people employed, transport is now the number 1 industry in the world. But this is definitely going to change. The jobs of the future are those in social intelligence & services, creativity, and craftsmanship.

Dagmar Schuller, audEERING: Listening Between the Lines: Emotional Intelligence Based on Audio

AudEERING applies AI to analyse the human emotion and acoustic context in voice recognition. Simply said, even though the standard audio recognition programs are aimed at the recognition of words, the AI allows also to analyse what is between the lines. And its not only the emotions like irritation or happiness, but also the physical state like fatigue, approximation of age or drunkenness. Currently they can distinguish between 50 different emotions and a variety of others based just on the analysis of human voice. One of the projects they currently work on is remote monitoring of the development of Parkinson's disease.

Ansgar Schneider, PAYBACK: Direct Marketing Propelled by Big Data & Machine Learning at PAYBACK

Nine years since the launch of their mobile app, PAYBACK now has more than 7 million active mobile users in Germany, with the average usage of their app 10 times a month. Using their loyalty program some ten years ago, was quite far from a fun experience. There was a necessity the carry around the card and if one was lucky, one of the many linear regression models in the background has suggested some relevant offers at the participating partners in the area.

Since the very launch of their app, PAYBACK has worked on making the experience as much fun for the customer as possible. Nowadays, users can receive personalized offers from the shops in which they find themselves at the very moment. They can even pay with the app, using a QR-code solution that saves the merchants card payment fees.

This was just a fraction of information presented at the event. On the top of that are discussions with qualified experts from various disciplines and the opportunity to present ourselves in the Startups Meet Corporate Speed Dating event. And not to mention the great party after the first conference day! Thank you, hub.berlin!


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5.4.2019 - Comments Off on How to trigger motivation to use greener transport?

How to trigger motivation to use greener transport?

At hDock42, we love to think about possible solutions to current world problems. And in the past several months, we have been intensively playing with ideas on possible solutions to make the European transport greener. We see that governments' incentives have often only a very limited impact.

See, for example, the subsidies for electric cars. In May 2010, the German government started its National Program for Electric Mobility with the goal to bring 1 million electric vehicles on the German streets by 2020.¹ Now its clear, this goal will not be achieved. Aren't there less costly and more efficient ways how to trigger positive motivation for greener mobility?

Luckily, we are not the only ones that are concerned by this questions. EPOMM is the European Platform on Mobility Management, a network of governments in European countries that are engaged in mobility management.² Already in 2017, they published a study on how rewards can trigger motivation with regard to people's transport choices. According to the study, monetary rewards can be a powerful tool to drive short-term behaviour change. However, rewards that create a positive attitude with a certain behaviour and celebrate each small step in the behaviour change process can significantly raise the chance of achieving a more permanent behaviour change. These rewards have to be relevant to the person’s desires. If they are, then they can reinforce his or her sense of self-esteem and intrinsic motivation.³

Keeping the EPOMM's study in mind, we have done a research about the current options in several European markets. There are already quite a few solutions that use various approaches. We have recognized the following patterns:

1. Gamification apps

These apps are in heart aiming at people's attitude to accept challenges. For example, the German app Changers. Their USP is that they cooperate with various large employers around Europe that want to support the change in behaviour of their employees. This does not only include commuting, but also sport activities or medical prevention.

2. Reward schemes of transport companies

Not only airlines, also some of the railway companies, like German DB, or Czech ČD and Leo Express offer bonus schemes for their frequent customers. The benefits of such loyalty programs are starting to be recognized also by large international players, like Uber that has recently started its own loyalty program in the USA. No doubt that switching from own car to train or a shared mobility has a positive impact on the CO₂-balance. Still, these solutions are only aimed at the customers of those specific companies.

3. Cross-company loyalty cards

These loyalty schemes, like German Payback, Swiss Wee or British Nectar, were in the beginning specialized only on retail. Later they started spreading to other categories like travel and transport. Their advantage is that they offer an all-in-one solution with no need to have various loyalty cards for different providers. Their USP is in their large network of partners that allows for advanced market research activities, using the customers' data.

4. Mobility-as-a-service solutions

What do the companies like the British Citymapper, the Finnish Mass.Global, and Austrian Upstream Mobility have in common? They create the infrastructure that aims to make transport choices more transparent and to integrate all the transport providers in their service. According to the motto "Integration means more effectiveness", they can offer their customer better prices for using their service, as if they had to book at several transport services separately.

5. Other emerging solutions

Recently, new approaches towards green mobility started popping up. With the emerging blockchain technology on the rise, companies like DOVU or VMC are trying to revolutionize the way people use and pay for mobility services. Their solutions are now in testing phases, and we are very curious about how they will develop. A completely different approach is the one that chose the team around the German app Rydes. In this case, the user scans the transportation tickets in order to receive points that he can redeem for various rewards.

As you can see, there are several large and many emerging players on the market that are trying to motivate commuters to change their transport behaviour. Which one will become the most successful one? Which one is your favourite? Is there any space for new ideas and loyalty programs? Let us know of your opinion!


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26.3.2019 - Comments Off on Meet Barri – Your digital barista

Meet Barri – Your digital barista

Learnings from the making of our first Messenger chatbot.

At MotionWise Solutions, one of the hDock42's running projects, we strive to connect consumers in a specific location, with the businesses and services nearby, allowing them to find, order and pay for services instantly while consumption happens “on-the-go”. By now, we have developed two use cases. Although they both use our very same LDS-platform in the backend, they offer a completely different user experience.

The first of the is OpenToll - an integrated app for cars that improves user experience when paying for highway tolls, registering for congestion charges, or paying for parking. You can find more on OpenToll in one of our previous journals. Today we are here to talk about Barri. His mission is to cashlessly serve you your favourite cup of coffee in a nearby café, saving you the valuable queuing time . And he does that in the way which is so familiar to the majority of consumers - as a Messenger chatbot.

Meet Barri

Barri has proved himself as a perfect use case for our LDS-platform. Not only because of his good looks, but mostly because he is so intuitive to use. The initial camaraderie with Barri starts with you either liking our Barri Facebook page, or simply scanning the promotional QR code, which brings you directly to our landing page where the digital barista himself, flashes out. Once you start chatting with him, he automatically checks if one of the contracted partner coffee shop is in your area (for this use case, we have chosen partner coffee shops in Berlin and Prague). The finalization of the order is then just a matter of few taps.

In order to make Barri as user-friendly as possible, we have invited potential users to join a focus group that would test the process flow and the intuitiveness of use. Initially, we have used "Talk to Barri" as a call to action. Unexpectedly for us, 80% of the people simply decided to vocally trigger the bot, talking at the mobile screen, awaiting for Barri to be activated on the spot and getting on with their coffee case. Judging by the amount of our users look, portraying a semi-persistence facial expression of them, taking the correct action, we had to gently step in.

Our lesson learned, when pre-ordering a coffee and the instruction says ‘talk’ then the outcome of the user action is talking. Perhaps, this particular testing helped us to be informed of the trend that goes far beyond texting, and should have a future adjustment. The voice over function embedded in. So who knows, maybe the already existing Alexa could get a new buddy very soon, your voice-called to action digital barista - Barri.

Wanna check out Barri? Visit his homepage at Barri.io. For a short explanation of our LDS-platform see this video.

PS: Please note that Barri currently works in beta-mode only in limited area in Berlin (Germany), which was a perfect testing ground due to large number of privately owned coffee shops and very deep running roots of coffee shop culture. Follow Barri on Facebook in order to be informed about his next steps.


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14.3.2019 - Comments Off on Is UK still the top European country for start-ups?

Is UK still the top European country for start-ups?

The accessibility of public funding and the amount of country’s investments in innovations and research can be important factors when deciding where to base your future start-up company. Moreover, they somehow indicate the overall attitude of the government towards the entrepreneurs. It is not easy to find some summarizing information on this topic and that’s why we at hDock42 did a little research.

Our expectation was that the UK, being the major hub for tech start-ups in Europe, should be one of the top countries in R&D investments spending. The assumption proved to be wrong  - at least according to the latest news release of the Eurostat on the R&D expenditures in the EU (see table below).¹

The message is clear: Countries like Sweden, Denmark, Germany or Austria are trying really hard to keep the pace in research & innovation, relatively to their GDP.

And what about start-up grants, specifically? If we take a closer look at the available public grants and governmental programmes for micro-enterprises, the numbers are suddenly much lower. In the table below, you can see that countries like Germany and Austria still seem to be having an edge on the UK. These countries have recently started several business funding initiatives² ³ and are trying their best to promote them anywhere it is possible. Press releases are being published and foreign founders are being lured to base their companies here.

Sources:1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11

Sure, in the UK there are organizations like Innovate UK, the British Business Bank with their Start Up Loans program, or the SBRI which supports the development of new medical technologies, but obviously it is not public funding what really makes the United Kingdom stand out in the statistics.

What we at hDock42 value about the UK is especially the relatively low bureaucracy, the presence of venture capital funds and the lively start-up scene in London. However, we have to emphasise that we hope that whole Brexit situation will be solved quickly and the British government will start concentrating on other things again. And one of them should be how to make the Great Britain stand out again among its European competitors as the best location to start a business.

We think that the UK is still a great place for start-ups. We are just not sure if we will be able to say the same, let’s say in one year, too. Do you agree with us? Or do you think that we may have omitted some important figures? Let us know in the discussion!


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4.12.2018 - Comments Off on 2018 Global Pitch by DealMatrix – Evaluations done! (Journal #9)

2018 Global Pitch by DealMatrix – Evaluations done! (Journal #9)

Let’s start with some facts; You’ve probably never heard of Global Pitch and you’ve probably never heard of DealMatrix. In the world of thousands of startup competitions and festivals, hundreds of scouting and innovation platforms and hard to guess a number of startups and investors chasing them, it is impossible to know them all.

Let us say only this, DealMatrix is one of those SaaS cloud-based “innovation scouting and scoring” platforms which allow you to receive, store and score pitches and innovation proposals in a collaborative manner. It was borne in Europe, precisely in Austria and that makes them more unique and closer to our hearts. They also have some nice features like flexible scoring and collaboration but that's for them to tell you 🙂

So, why we support their efforts with hours and hours of our time? It is because we have respect for the courage. What team at DealMatrix decided to do to create their adoption breakthrough (they were not the first SaaS for innovation scouting) and to push the brand forward was cool and courageous! They decided to partner with different startup festivals (like 4YFN [https://www.4yfn.com/] - where we’ve met them) but also, they decided to create their own Global Pitch competition for startups. They are cloud platform, not chained to any location and so we believe that “global” approach was a great bet which will pay off. It was certainly a lot of work but....

The first ever Global Pitch competition with over 100 startups from all over the world was in 2017. Our very own Petr Palan was part of the inaugural global jury.

Now, in 2018, we’re celebrating the second run and Petr has just finished evaluating over 40 startup pitches and business models in two categories of our interest - Our Body and Our Cities. If you know us you may remember we have invested in projects related to transportation and cities (read about them here) and he's a lot into preventive fitness, wellness, and well-being as a replacement for reactive pharmaceuticals.

If you are interested to find out who the winners of 2018 are - just tune in to Global Pitch webpage (https://globalpitch.com/) after December 13th and you should be able to see the winners in each category there. Hopefully with hyperlinks to their website and social media presence 😉

And if you like the concept, spread the word or participate and send your pitch for the next year!


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22.11.2018 - Comments Off on A revolution in small satellite engines is happening in the Czech Republic

A revolution in small satellite engines is happening in the Czech Republic

This is our first Press Release of this year related to our SpaceLab EU project working on pretty exciting new things. Enjoy below...

-----------

SpaceLab EU and the Czech Aerospace Research Centre (VZLU) have entered into a SpaceLab-logopartnership under which they will, over the next five years, develop and commercialize a unique air-breathing ion propulsion engine that allows satellites to maintain their position on a very low orbit. The engine thrust is created by accelerating the residual atmosphere of the Earth and thus engine itself needs no other fuel. The project of the new engine type is a response to increasing users' demand for small-satellite fleets operation, including prolonging their service life. Think SpaceX or OneWeb plans for thousands of small satellites providing connectivity from space.VZLU

The uniqueness of the joint project is increased by the fact that it is the first opportunity to make very low orbits accessible to sustainable satellite traffic. The benefits of operating on a very low orbit are obvious both in the field of communications – significantly lower latency (signal delay) compared to the present situation and lower transmitter power requirements, and in the field of visual monitoring of the Earth – significantly more accurate and clearer pictures. The value of the joint development is in millions of EUR. The commercial potential is expected in hundreds of millions of euros. The prospects are expected to be the future commercial operators of small-satellite fleets as well as military users.

The teams of both companies are working together on the project at VZLÚ premises in Prague, where both computer simulations and experimental hardware are being born. The teams have there all currently necessary laboratory equipment, including new clean rooms necessary for experimentation and preparation of the engineering model, which will then be tested in space.

SpaceLab EU SE is a newly established entity dedicated to space research and its global

ionoSat; air-breathing ion propulsion for small satellites in breadboard

breadboard of our air-breathing ion engine

commercial use. The entire project, including the SpaceLab EU, was launched thanks to the group of European enthusiasts and investors jointly operating under the brand hDock42, which is focused on promoting and commercial development of European know-how.

The Czech Aerospace Research Center (VZLU) is a national centre for research, development and testing in aviation and astronautics. Its mission is to provide scientific support and bring innovative solutions for the industry.

(this press release was first published at SpaceLab EU website and via EIN Presswire)

8.11.2018 - Comments Off on Women are the next big thing in tech! (Journal #8)

Women are the next big thing in tech! (Journal #8)

This is kind of an old story but it will give you a good perspective for the whole “let’s build a venture fund” idea and possibly lessons you can draw from it in case you’d ever decide to go down the venture capital route.

Short summary would be - about two years ago, soon after we actually established hDock42 and the whole European Launchpad idea, we’ve had came to a conclusion, which at that time was hidden to most people in Europe : “Women Are The Next Big Thing In Tech and Business”. It’s who and not what!

And yes, we could debate this till we drop, but it’s a simple fact. If you don’t see it yet, no worries, you will. It’s like gravity, you don't see it or think about it but if you try to understand how we live on Earth, you find out it’s here and it works.

Now let me tell you how we got to this belief; in the early days of hDock42 we’ve traveled extensively to visit different innovation communities across the world to see and feel the vibes, and to establish or re-establish connections and to find out how we could create or transfer those vibes to Europe. Yes, we were kind of obsessed with “how to get the Silicon Valley vibes to Europe”. I mean look, it kind of makes no sense, no one wants to live in Silicon Valley, because of its beauty and culture and history, we all went there because of people we can meet there and vibe (or atmosphere if you want) we find there. Wouldn’t it be much cooler if you could have the vibes, the people and drive to try and experiment in a place where people actually want to live? In a place which actually has culture, history, and streets you can walk on!

American influence

And as we’ve visited trade fairs, job fairs, innovation fairs, makers fairs, business and tech conferences, and startup summits. We loved them all but one trip has felt very special among them all. It was our trip to NYC, Boston, and Pittsburgh. Our main destination was annual EmTech (MIT Technology Review event) in Boston where we went to hear more about emerging technologies cooking in labs around the world.

It was completely unplanned but this whole trip was the first one, after many before, where we saw the female power in action…

  1. organizers of EmTech kept absolutely balanced the diversity on stage and it struck us as an amazing that at the two days conference focused on fields of deep science, robotics, and new materials, that’s even possible
  2. we got invited to Boston meetup community Tech-In-Motion running “Women Entrepreneurs” evening where we’ve seen ladies from 12 years old special ice-cream inventor to lady doctors running a healthcare apps for special-needs care and we’ve found out how city of Boston supports innovators and diversity for over a decade, including mayor himself.
  3. We’ve met amazing female creators at NYC Media Lab.
  4. and many more little instances where the combined presence of both genders has made us think, wow, they are a great team or it’s a great match these two, etc.

It was during this two weeks trip that we started to watch out for the signs of gender equality and the feeling started to grow into belief - that it’s more important who is involved than what is being done or where.

Let's try a venture fund

Then we looked around and thought, if we want to make an impact, we should be able to move female founders forward hence we should build a venture fund. But wait, if we are going to work on building a venture fund, it will be number 1001 in Europe, so we should really find some edge no one has. Could that edge be hard-focus on gender?

I mean everyone will tell you they have smart money, smart ass, great contacts, operational expertise, and…you name it. But very few VCs in Europe actually stand for something special; be it deep understanding of the industry and real hands-on experience like Passion Capital, or building a strong supporting community like Hardware Club. And so we decided (on a very high-level) to get the special edge by focusing on female founders across Europe.

And that was it. Our ideation start for the project to create a venture fund focused on female entrepreneurs. It did not have a name back then but we knew we want to focus on female founders or mixed founders teams across Europe because this can have a disproportionate impact and we won't be competing in a faceless crowd of VC funds. And yes, we thought that everyone will be as excited as we were about this unexploited niche focus. This was early 2017...

Well, we were heading in for a big big surprise…

 


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